The Trauma of White Supremacy
January 22, 2021
I feel my body tense and my breaths moving in sharply as I watch the TV screen. I can never look away no matter how hard I try. It does not matter how deeply I want to get to work, my heart has other plans. My eyes constantly cast towards the searing landscape of fire, where there is no justice and no understanding. Another white supremacy march, another black body, another reminder that we “beings” don’t belong. The helplessness is overwhelming, and the sadness is almost too much to handle. I look into the mirror sometimes questioning if I should love the skin in which I have been told to hate for way too long. This feeling has become repetitive over the last few years of my life and over the last few months, it has reached an unimaginable intensity.
Every ounce of insecurity in me is heightened when I am reminded that we are in a world that does not love black skin as much as those who wear the skin want to love it. Our skin was not chosen by us, yet we feel blessed that the richness of our culture spreads upon every shade. However, no matter how rich we are inside, knees remain on our necks, nooses to our throats, and guns to our backs. Hateful words are spewed across computer screens and are forced into the air behind cloth masks (or the lack thereof). The fear that the combination of red and blue strikes into the heart of the black and brown of all ages is disheartening. The colors we should trust the most are met with concern and scrutinizing eyes because we know the ugly outcomes that can arise from those who are sworn to protect us most.
Watching the capital riots, the Black Lives Matter protests, the murders of the unarmed black souls, and the tears of the mothers are enough to send anyone into a state of anxiety and depression. The collective trauma of black mental health has been a compounding type of trauma because it is unending and only mounting year after year. My body has been placed in fight or flight mode even when no imminent danger is present because my mind believes that danger is my presence. No matter where I go, it takes one misunderstanding with the law or one white supremacist target, and my world can change. Even worse, this too applies to the worlds of those I hold dear, causing the state of panic to only heighten each day.
Mental health is delicate because it relies heavily on connection and relationships with others in order to build an unwavering trust. Those who are in their darkest space can find solace and hope in the arms of others. When I walk through a world with cut eyes and distrust, I can never open my heart to others. Wondering who this person voted for or if they really hate my skin deep down. Trying to decide if this person is out to get me or if they truly mean well. This dangerous concoction of fear and distrust creates mental health isolation that is lonely and leaves room for the voices of hate that are louder in the mind than they ever will be on earth.
Even despite all of the fear, distrust, and pain, I have created my own home of hope. I have realized that my saving grace has always been faith. With faith, I get to make the choice to heal the wounds of distrust. I get to silence the internal voice of hate in my head. I get to also decide how I view the outlook of the world. As a Christian, I understand that my future is promised to be bright with hope and a life of happiness. God has promised this and through my communion with Him, I have learned that He never breaks what He has spoken to be true. Many faiths speak of the same collective truths that overcome the collective trauma. There is a joy to be located within the arms of agony and faith is the vehicle.
Even in the eye of the storm, I find a quiet space in my prayer closet at home to clear the clouds in my mind, creating a space of mental joy. This space may seem like a room with just clothes, but it is so much more. It is a portal to another world in my heart and mind because it allows the quietness to emerge from the chaos of life. The tight space creates a wrapping of safety around my soul and it is my little corner of the world that no one gets to taint or destroy. It is my time to simply talk to God with my head held high and my eyes tightly closed to take it all in. A moment of peace as I pass through the moments of life.
I believe that God has created us all in His image and even if the image is not beautiful to the world, the picture God sees is a work of art. I am His masterpiece from every pigment in my skin to the tresses of my hair and the curvature of my nose. With every moment that faces me in this world of broken social justice, the justice of faith impedes all because through faith…is love. And frankly, with love, we will always win.
Sabriya is hosting the first ever Grand Racial Justice Retreat on February 6, 2021. Click here to learn how you can participate.
Sabriya Dobbins graduated from North Carolina State University with dual Bachelor’s degrees in Animal Science and Social Work. After experiencing her own difficult mental health battles, she created Project Passport with the dream of providing a transformational and experiential mental well-being retreat experience that focused primarily on solutions to help people improve their overall mental wellbeing and daily happiness. With certifications in CBT, NLP, Mindfulness, Positive Psychology, and Life Purpose Coaching, she helps individuals reach their greater capacities and pushes them to pursue their goals and aspirations through unconventional, hands-on experiences.
American Civic Life